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Lucy Chard
26 Oct 2022

Merck to donate new Ebola vaccine to defend against outbreaks in Uganda

Pharmaceutical giant Merck has announced they will be speeding up the processing of a new vaccine against the latest strain of the Ebola virus, to be donated to a global non-profit organisation for distribution

Merck has stepped up to help in the face of an Ebola outbreak in Uganda.

The multinational pharmaceutical company has divulged that it had developed an experimental vaccine for the Sudan strain of the Ebola virus, following previous outbreaks across Sudan and Zaire. Merck developed the Ervebo vaccine, which was approved for and used to treat the Zaire virus strain in 2019.

Since, Merck had been working on doses of an updated vaccine for potential future use. Merck have now announced that they do have an investigational version of the vaccine, and they will be producing and donating this to a global non-profit organisation's research program in Uganda for distribution to those affected by the spreading virus.

The new vaccine has not yet been tested in humans, but shows good efficacy when tested in primates. The vaccine uses a vesicular stomatitis virus vector, containing a gene that codes for a surface protein of the Sudan ebolavirus. An advantage of using this type of vaccine is that vesicular stomatitis virus self-replicates, so immunity can build very rapidly. This is similar to the vaccine that was developed for the Zaire strain of the virus, which is proven to be effective and safe in humans across regulatory bodies.

Merck are hoping this decision to donate the virus will speed along testing and production so that the vaccine can be ready for use as soon as possible.

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Lucy Chard
Digital Editor - Pharma

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